Daniel Pinkwater's brilliant, hilarious, life-changing books as $3 ebooks

Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.

The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).

Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.

Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.

What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado of Death and The Snarkout Boys & The Baconburg Horror comprise the canon.

Fat Men from Space is the greatest paen ever penned to sloppy cooking. If you can't get enough of Shopsin's in NYC, or find yourself throwing everything in a frying pan at 2AM, you need this book.

Then there's Chicago Days and Hoboken Nights, a memoir as a series of comic essays that tell the story of Pinkwater's boyhood, his training as an artist, his late-night hot-dogs, and the forces that made him into the towering force of literature that he is today.

There's so much more!

* TWO editions of the Hoboken Chicken Emergency: one with Jill Pinkwater's illustrations, the other with Daniel's original art

* The Last Guru

* The Magic Moscow

* Uncle Boris in the Yukon

* The Worms of Kukumlima

* Yobgorgle

* The Afterlife Diet

Many of these are books that I was originally only able to read through interlibrary loan and was only able to get for my own shelves through tireless used bookstore searching. The idea that you can have them all, for $3, is a testament to the idea that we are living in an age of wonders.

Notable Replies

  1. The description of the flavor of beer at the beer garden in "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death" led directly to me wanting to try brewing beer. 13 years and thousands of gallons later, I'm still chasing that elusive, warm, nutty flavor.

  2. I am thrilled to see The Magic Moscow on the list. The first Pinkwater book I tried to read was Lizard Music. The strangeness of it threw me so much I didn't get further than twenty pages before quitting, although with a strange feeling of regret, which led me to pick up The Hoboken Chicken Emergency at the library, which I then never got around to even opening.

    Then one Christmas my mother, bless her, for some bizarre reason gave me The Magic Moscow. Again the strangeness of it threw me, but it was my book, so I felt an obligation to read it. And something snapped. I got it. This was funny, but not in an obvious setup/punchline kind of way. It was funny in a way that I think can't be described, only illustrated with the titular ice cream shop's signature dish, the "Moron's Delight":

    It has six flavors of ice cream - two scoops of each - a banana, a carrot, three kinds of syrup, whole roasted peanuts, a slice of Swiss cheese, a radish, yogurt, wheat germ, and a kosher pickle. It is served in a shoebox lined with plastic wrap.

  3. NOTE:

    There's Young Adults and Young Adult Novel.

    Young Adult Novel is a novella that introduces the characters.

    Young Adults contains some additional stories about the hapless story-within-a-story character the Young Adults create and put through horrible abuse. Plus an additional short story, in which the Young Adults get sucked into their school's guidance / psychiatric help labyrinth.

  4. Fat Men from Space was the subject of a book report I wrote in 1979. Loved that book, and found an old library copy for my son.

  5. I can't tell you how many nights my mom and I would laugh ourselves speechless reading Pinkwater out loud as a family on camping trips. And I still always look for the chicken man and all those fantastic characters and seek out odd diners. There MUST be a city like that in/under Troy, NY!
    In 5th grade we had to write a letter to our favorite author. I wrote to Pinkwater and he wrote back a really nice letter. I remember his stationary had the names of all his stories around the edge. I'd love to say I still had the letter but the librarian "borrowed" it to put it on display and I never got it back (33 years later and I still hold a grudge).
    So, yay for Daniel Pinkwater and I know what I'm reading tonight before bed!

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